Animal protection groups arrive in Haiti

February 3, 2010

Haiti officials have recognised that animal recovery is a necessary part of the relief effort.

A coalition of animal protection groups has arrived in Haiti to aid animals left stricken by the nation's devastating earthquake.

The team - known collectively as the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) - was formed specifically to deal with the Haiti crisis.

The coalition is jointly led by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), in partnership with more than a dozen of the world's leading animal protection organisations, including the British RSPCA.

"Humanitarian aid is starting to reach the victims and must be given priority, but undoubtedly animals have been massively affected too," said Coralie Farren, RSPCA International aid officer.

The most pressing animal welfare problems will be identified by the ARCH team after meetings with officials from the Haitian government, as well as international agencies such as the United Nations.

Wide-ranging, long-term plans will be drawn up, including options for creating and improving infrastructure for veterinary care, a large-scale vaccination programme and animal population control services.

The Haitian Minister for the Environment, Jean Marie Claude Germain, told ARCH that they had not considered including animals in recovery plans, but after meeting the team, they could see it was a necessary part of the relief effort.

Most members of the ARCH team have returned to Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, to assemble supplies for the next emergency relief exercise.

The coalition team will also continue its assessment in the areas of Haiti beyond Port-au-Prince, implementing immediate veterinary aid to animals in cooperation with the Haitian government.

IFAW's director of emergency relief, Ian Robinson, said: "The condition of these animals before the earthquake was not good, so we can't just simply put things back as they were.

"We need to deliver immediate relief to animals and develop long-term plans for a lasting good."